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Jerusalem Artichokes

November 7th, 2011

I purchased these Jerusalem Artichokes last year at the farmer’s market and they got pushed to the back of my fridge. I was actually going to plant them last fall and completely forgot. When I finally saw them in the fridge it was mid-winter. Then I forgot about them again until a month or so ago when my mom and I were talking about them. I got them out of the fridge figured they would never sprout or grow, so I was going to throw them in the compost. I figured I’d let them sit on the counter for a few days to see what would happen. Low and behold, they started to sprout roots and green shoots.

I haven’t planted them in the garden yet because I need to find the perfect spot. Planting them in a raised bed in the back would be a good ideas, I hear they can become invasive. This is a completely new plant for me (although I have something growing along the edge of the woods that looks very similar and I must dig some up to see if they have tubers). From what I read they’re kind of like a potato, but slightly sweeter and nuttier. Some people eat them raw, some people steam them like potatoes. The history of the Jerusalem Artichoke, or Sunchoke as it’s also called, is quite fascinating (here’s an interesting link). Since it’s a native wild vegetable to North America, I really want to include it in my garden.

I’d like to spend some time researching how the Indians prepared them and try to use their methods. It certainly would be a great history lesson for kids to grow and eat these. They would pair well with a lesson on the Native American Indians who cultivate them or Lewis and Clark since they used them for sustenance on their long journey.

Do you grow Sunchokes? Have you ever eaten them? Any tips for me? Do you grow any other unusual vegetables?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.